Marrakech or Marrakesh (both: märäˈkĕsh, mə–) [key], city (1994 pop. 672,478), W central Morocco. The city, renowned for leather goods, is one of the principal commercial centers of Morocco and a major tourist center. It was founded (1062) by the Almoravid leader Yusuf ibn Tashfin and was the capital of Morocco from then until 1147 and again from 1550 to 1660. It was captured by the French in 1912.
Beautifully situated near the Atlas Mts., Marrakech has extensive gardens, ruins of a 16th-century palace, a former palace of the sultan that is now a museum of Moroccan art, and a royal necropolis (16th–18th cent.). The 253-ft (77-m) minaret (completed 1195) of the Koutoubia mosque dominates the city. The Université Ben Youssef, a center of Islamic studies, and a public university are in Marrakech.